Wind Energy Facility on Oregon-Washington line is largest in U.S.

The Stateline Wind Project along the Oregon-Washington border surpassed a Texas wind ranch in 2002 to become the world’s largest wind farm, industry officials said Thursday.

By the Associated Press The Missoulian

The Stateline project, which generates enough power to light 70,000 homes, added 37 megawatts of wind power last year, pushing it past the 278-megawatt King Mountain Wind Ranch, said Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association.

Stateline is about 20 miles north of Pendleton, Ore., and is owned by FPL Energy, a subsidiary of Florida Power & Light Co.

Overall, wind farm installations increased by about 10 percent in 2002. Wind farms in 27 states produce nearly 4,690 megawatts of power annually – enough to light more than 1.3 million homes, Real de Azua said.

The industry, however, is concerned for wind development because a federal wind energy tax credit will expire on Dec. 31, 2003, unless Congress renews it.

The legislation provides the wind developer a credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for 10 years and uncertainty over the credit could delay wind farm proposals and construction, said Real de Azua.

"Any project that comes online after December 2003 is not going to be eligible for the credit," she said. "It’s a real looming problem."

Real de Azua said AWEA had projected more than 2,000 megawatts of new wind power would go online in 2003, but recently scaled its estimate back by 500 megawatts because of uncertainty over the tax credit.

The tax credit has expired twice before, in 1999 and 2001, and both times wind power development suffered significant setbacks, she said.

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